Friday, May 22, 2009

Chukudus are awesome

What makes a certain technology popular in one place, and yet non-existent in another? We see this a lot in high technology - for example, when crazy advanced devices take off in Japan, but fail to have any success in the US.

I thought about this after seeing my first Chukudu in Goma:

Pronounced choo-ka-dook, these clever devices are all over the place in Goma. Essentially, they're home-made bicycles designed to carry heavy loads. Men use them all over the city for carrying lumber, cement, potatoes, and other heavy items. They're made mostly from wood, but do contain a small amount of modern material such as rubber and a spring.

The chukudus are a vest improvement over the standard bicycle, which is also common for carrying loads in Uganda and eastern Congo. The bikes don't have as much room for materials, they can be expensive, and they don't stay balanced very well.

So if they're such an improvement, why are they so common in Goma, yet non-existent in Uganda? It seems like they would be much more useful than the bikes used in Uganda. Is there less wood? Are people embarrassed by the DIY look? Is it just a lack of knowledge? I don't know. This is one of the questions I think requires a long time within a culture to really understand. There may be all sorts of subtle reasons that are not clear to the outside mzungu. Then again, there may be many people ready to switch to something better if given the chance.

1 comment:

  1. One thing that is along the same lines is the auto rickshaw and equivalent. You would think people in developing countries would settles on the same design, but you have:

    auto rickshaws in India
    tricycles in Philippines
    tuk-tuks in s.e. Asia